Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Article excerpt

MOBUTU Sese Seko, it seems to me, is a much traduced man. In the field of social policy he was a most enlightened ruler and was greatly in advance of his time. For example, he lowered the age of consent to 13, legalised polygamy and endowed men with almost infinite rights over their women. He thus made de jure what, in an English slum, is merely de facto. His code of law, instead of limping lamely after social trends as British law invariably does, was on the contrary in the vanguard of social change - by definition a good thing.

Take the case of Donna, whom I saw last week. At the age of 14, Donna had given birth to Darren's daughter, predictably enough called Jade. Darren was 16 when he became a father, and the happy parents set up home together.

Darren soon grew tired of his responsibilities, but he nevertheless loved Donna, which is why he accused her all the time of having affairs, the slut, and why he partially strangled her from time to time, especially after he'd been at the glue, and why he broke her ribs and blacked her eyes. Once he pushed her all the way out of a closed window (on the ground floor) and Donna called the police, who told her that if only she'd remained indoors they could have done something but because she was out of doors they could do nothing. If she'd been indoors, of course, it would have been the other way round.

At the age of 19, Darren decided that he needed his `own space', i.e. he moved in with another girl. But that did not prevent him from coming round to Donna from time to time, for respite care as it were, and there he would either make love to her or beat her up, or both. …

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